Benefit of any doubt in age of victim to go to accused; age to be taken on higher side of range: Del HC

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. dismissed a revision petition filed against the judgment of the trial court whereby it had discharged the accused of offences under Sections 75 and 79 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and directed that she would face trial under Section 323 IPC.

The allegation against the respondent was that she had employed and maltreated the victim. Since there were no documents available of proof of age of the victim, it was ascertained through medical examination. The medical examination board opined the age of the victim to be between 18 to 20 years. The trial court considering the age determined as 18 to 20 years, opined that the victim was not a child as defined under the JJ Act and as such Sections 75 and 79 would not be attracted. Aggrieved thereby, the State preferred the instant appeal.

The High Court perused the record and was of the view that there was no infirmity in the view taken by the trial court. Keeping in view the fact benefit of doubt has to go the accused, the age would have been taken to be the higher of the range as determined by the medical examination while further keeping in view the margin of error 1 to 2 years. In Court’s opinion, the victim was not a minor when the alleged offence was stated to have happened. In such view of the matter, the judgment impugned was upheld and the appeal was dismissed. [State v. Rama Dhall,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 12540, decided on 22-11-2018]

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